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Stress and anxiety: the importance of crying

Some of us are good at it, some of us haven’t done it since we were children. Crying is a subject that people shy away from, whether it be because it makes them uncomfortable to be around, or because they are not comfortable with crying themselves. But the importance of crying cannot be denied.

Women and crying

Even as women, we are taught at such a young age that crying is “undesirable behaviour”. If we cry, not only are we embarrassing ourselves and showing our weakness, but we’re making people around us feel uncomfortable. How very dare we.

And so we make ourselves small, we diminish our feelings, our importance, our validity in this world to please others. When you’re 7 years old and you’re crying because you dropped your ice cream that’s not such a problem. But when you’re struggling to keep it together after a traumatic event, or you’re fighting back tears at a memorial service, it doesn’t feel so great.

In fact, it feels like you’re totally alone – it’s just you and your tears against a world that is simply begging you not to burst out crying. You’re not only fighting your emotions, but you’re battling to stay socially acceptable. The self-talk at this point is pretty damaging, to say the least.

The importance of crying

Here’s my challenge to you. Cry. Sob. Wail if you need to. But don’t you dare hold it in a moment longer. You are putting both your mental and physical health at risk by bottling it all up.

By not crying, you are avoiding dealing with the emotions that are the reason for your tears. Crying is a physical release of your emotions, and if you don’t let them go, they will manifest themselves in other possibly more damaging ways. Anxiety, insomnia, muscle tension, low immunity…the list goes on.

And of course, you need to cry in order to allow yourself to feel what it is that is troubling you. Crying is a physical symptom of emotional trauma, and letting your tears flow will help you to not only examine your thoughts and feelings but to work through them and move beyond the pain.

Identifying the safe spaces

Possibly the hardest part in all of this is plucking up the courage to cry when you’re in a space where you don’t feel comfortable doing it. Obviously, there are spaces where it’s difficult to feel safe, such as on public transport, or in a shopping centre. In those cases, it’s best to listen to your instincts – if you feel comfortable crying, then go for it, and if not, try and slip off to a restroom to have a private moment.

There are also places where you might feel safe and accepted, but you wouldn’t feel comfortable crying there, like the office. Again, listen to your instincts. If you’d rather slip off to the bathroom, or leave the office for a local park, do it. But in some cases, it’s okay to break down, and instilling it as a sign of strength in the people around you can be life-changing.

When was the last time you cried? Embracing these feelings and examining them, even if slowly at first, will help you live a happier life.

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